William Eugene Davis – Native American, age 49

Sentenced in Cleveland County, Oklahoma
By: a jury
Date of crime: September 4, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Davis was found guilty of the shotgun slaying of his sisters Tami Link (age 52) and Sheila Ellis (age 56), as well as Link’s mother in law Letannah Bishop (age 87).  Brent Link, who is blind, was home during the attacks and was able to find Davis before disarming him and beating him unconscious.  Davis received three death sentences and a 5-year sentence for assault with intent to kill Brent.  The defense argued that lifelong problems with alcohol and mental illnesses were mitigating factors.
Sources: 2/18/10 AP Alert – OK 11:03:54, 2/20/10 (2010 WLNR 3791529), The Oklahoman 3/26/10 AP Alert – OK 21:23:39, Oklahoman 3/27/10 (2010 WLNR 6594277), Oklahoman 1/1/11 (2011 WLNR 151144).

Roderick Smith – Black, age 26

Sentenced in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
By: a jury
Date of crime: June 28, 1993
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Smith admitted to killing his wife, Jennifer Smith (age 21) and her four children, Ladarian Carter (age 7), Glen Edward Carter, Jr. (age 9), Shameka Carter (age 10) and Kenesha Carter (age 6).  Smith and his wife had fought with a knife after he had told her about losing his job and her sons came to her defense.  He then proceeded to suffocate the two girls.   Attorneys for Smith argued he had a troubled background, brain damage and was mentally retarded and therefore should be spared from the death penalty.  However, no such evidence was presented to the jury.  The Court of Appeals found Smith’s attorneys had failed to adequately represent him and overturned the death penalty.  He was resentenced to death in 2010.
Sources: The Oklahoman (OK) 3/16/04 (2004 WLNR 21120579), The Oklahoman (OK) 7/30/04 (2004 WLNR 21107819), 1/31/07 AP Alert – OK 15:34:37, The Daily Oklahoman (OK) 3/7/10 (2010 WLNR 4785734).

Michael Wilson – Black, age 19

Sentenced in Tulsa County, Oklahoma
By: a jury
Date of crime: February 26, 1995
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Wilson was convicted of robbery and the first-degree murder of clerk Richard Yost (age 30), whose beaten and bound body was found by a customer in a walk-in cooler.  Also arrested in connection with the slaying were Billy Don Akverson (age 22), Richard Harjo (age 16) and Darwin Brown (age 18).  Surveillance footage showed that Wilson was one of the men who restrained Yost while the others retrieved the metal baseball bat he was beaten to death with.  Defense attorneys maintained that Wilson’s above average intelligence and ability to function well in a structured setting showed he had the potential to benefit others in prison if not put on death row.  They also tried to argue the court failed to properly consider evidence that Wilson suffers from hallucinations and other mental health problems (schizophrenia).  Prosecutors focused on showing the brutality of the attack.
Sources: Tulsa World (OK) 2/2/97 (1997 WLNR 6705223), Tulsa World (OK) 2/21/97 (1997 WLNR 6707752), Tulsa World (OK) 8/10/08 (2008 WLNR 14964224), Oklahoman (OK) 8/28/09 (2009 WLNR 16982538).